Morton impressive in Curve loss

RICHMOND, Va. – The Curve lost, but the Pirates organization won Tuesday night at Richmond.

Charlie Morton, making his second rehab start coming off Tommy John surgery, had a strong outing with four shutout innings for Altoona. Morton allowed only one hit, struck out three, walked two and threw 69 pitches, 40 for strikes.

Morton left with the game scoreless, and Richmond went on to beat the Curve, 3-0, at The Diamond.

Morton’s fastball topped out in the 96 mph range, while he was throwing consistently in the 92-94 range. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in June, and 10 months into his rehab he showed no problems in his first Double-A appearance.

Morton’s next scheduled start would be Sunday if he stays on a five-day rotation. It’s unclear if he will make that next start with the Curve, but if he does, it would be at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Sunday against Erie.

Morton walked one and got three groundouts in the first inning. He gave up a one-out single to Jarrett Parker in the second, and after Parker stole second, Morton threw a wild pitch that moved the runner to third. Morton stranded him there with an inning-ending flyout.

The right-hander issued a one-out walk to Ehire Adrianza in the third, and the runner stole second but was stranded there. Morton breezed through his fourth and final inning, retiring the side in order.

Richmond scored a run in the sixth off David Bromberg (0-2), then added two more in the eighth. The Curve offense fell flat against the Flying Squirrels, getting shut out on eight hits.

Morton actually gave the Curve their best chance to score when he led off the third inning with a single. Andy Vasquez singled and Gift Ngoepe was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.

Altoona had the heart of its order up but came away with nothing as Matt Curry and Andrew Lambo struck out before Mel Rojas Jr. grounded out.

Richmond starter Justin Fitzgerald struck out 10 and gave up five hits over five shutout innings in a no-decision. Omar Javier (2-0) won in relief with two scoreless innings, and Daryl Maday earned his fifth save.

Game recap

Key player: Curve RHP Charlie Morton pitched four shutout innings on a rehab start from the Pirates.

Key play: The Curve loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning but didn’t score.

Key stat: Morton allowed only one hit, struck out three and walked two while throwing 69 pitches (40 strikes).

How they scored

Bottom 6th: Herrera singled, scored on Minicozzi single (0-1).

Bottom 8th: Panik singled, scored on Oropesa single (0-2); Minicozzi single scored Oropesa (0-3).